State lawmakers formally call on Ottawa and the White House to reopen the Canada-U.S. Border – .

State lawmakers formally call on Ottawa and the White House to reopen the Canada-U.S. Border – .

WASHINGTON – A well-known U.S. advocate for strengthening Canada-U.S. Ties helped lawmakers in Midwestern states formally voice bilateral frustrations on Wednesday by formally asking the two countries to open their shared border “immediately” to fully immunized travelers.

Scotty Greenwood, CEO of the Canadian American Business Council, was making a presentation at the Midwestern Legislative Conference in Rapid City, SD, when she heard delegates complain about Canada’s arbitrary application of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

By the end of the conference’s annual meeting, it had unanimously adopted a formal resolution, at Greenwood’s suggestion, adding further political pressure to the burning question of precisely when and how accidental travel between Canada and the United States will resume.

“The interpretation of what is considered essential travel has been a matter of discretion by individual border crossing officers, creating confusion,” the resolution reads.

“The Midwestern Legislative Conference hereby requests that the federal governments of the United States and Canada immediately reopen the border to all fully vaccinated individuals. “

He further notes that Canada is the second largest source of foreign direct investment in the United States, supporting an estimated 500,000 jobs there, and that the two countries accumulated $ 48 billion in bilateral agricultural trade in 2019, before the start of the pandemic.

The resolution describes the relationship as the most prosperous in the world, amounting to more than trillion dollars in trade and investment each year, but which depends on the “efficient movement of people, goods and services” to function properly. .

The conference, an offshoot of the Council of State Governments, represents lawmakers from 11 states in the Midwestern United States – Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin – as well as than the province of Saskatchewan. Alberta, Ontario and Quebec are also Affiliate Members.

The maple leaf flag was on display at Tuesday’s state dinner, Canada was mentioned in prayers ahead of time and the national anthem was performed, but despite the frills, none of the delegates based in the Canada was not present due to restrictions.

The resolution, Greenwood said in an interview, was not planned in advance, but rather emerged organically from his discussions with delegates and was passed unopposed – an indication of growing frustrations south of the border, in especially in the farming community.

“It’s not just the northern border. It’s the entire Midwestern region of the United States, ”Greenwood said.

“It’s important because of the broad scope, if you just look at the map of the country and who these people represent. It is important because it is bipartisan; it is the leadership of all these state governments. And it’s a validation of how important this Canada-U.S. Relationship is, and what’s at stake economically if we continue to keep the border closed. “

The border has been closed to non-essential travel since March 2020, with mutual restrictions being extended bilaterally on a monthly basis since then. They currently expire on July 21, which means an announcement on next steps is likely in the coming days.

Last week, Canada began exempting fully vaccinated Canadian citizens, permanent residents and a handful of other eligible people from the requirement to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, including three days in an approved hotel. by the government in the case of air travelers.

Trudeau declined to say on Wednesday when further changes might come. “We will make the appropriate announcements at the appropriate time,” he said.

Experts and observers have questioned whether the United States could lift its own restrictions along the northern border before Canada is ready to reciprocate. Signals to date from White House press secretary Jen Psaki suggest that is unlikely, at least for now.

These same observers, however, see the prospect of an impending federal election in Canada – and fears of long border delays serving as the backdrop to a campaign that will certainly depend on how the ruling Liberals have handled the pandemic. – as one in the thinking of the federal government.

Public opinion in Canada, which was strongly opposed to the idea of ​​allowing US residents to enter the country at a time when COVID-19 was raging in this country, has started to change, said Kathryn Bryk Friedman, expert in Borders and Professor of Law and Planning at the University of Buffalo.

“I believe that Canada’s federal elections play an important role in calculating the lifting of border restrictions,” Friedman said.

“If Canadian public opinion changes, then the government, in my opinion, will follow suit.

Whatever happens, it has to happen mutually and bilaterally, said David Jacobson, U.S. Ambassador to Canada under former President Barack Obama, who is now Vice President of BMO Financial Group. It would be “sub-optimal” if the United States decided to go it alone, he said in an interview.

“People come and go, sometimes within hours; well, if one side is open and the other takes 14 days of suffering, it won’t work, ”Jacobson said.

As for any long-term effect on Canada-U.S. Relations, it may end up being better, he added.

“If this relationship can withstand Donald Trump for four years, it can withstand whatever is going on now – there is too strong a basis,” Jacobson said. “Maybe this is one of the many things where we show that unlike a lot of neighbors, we are able to work together and solve problems together. “

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 14, 2021.


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